Napoleon

Campeonas: Madrid’s female heroes

This August, Spain’s women’s team won a huge victory, not just in the realm of football but over sexist machismo attitudes in sport. To celebrate, I wanted to take a moment to honor the brave women in Madrid’s history who stood up for themselves during tumultuous times. Give it up for Madrid’s female heroes! The …

Campeonas: Madrid’s female heroes Read More »

Caught on Canvas: a Rogues’ Gallery of Spanish Rulers

Caught on canvas or let off the hook? Portraiture is a tricky business. An artist has to balance capturing the true likeness of the subject with flattering their ego. If said subject is a nasty piece of work, the job just gets even trickier. This post features three portraits of Spain’s most notoriously nefarious rogues, …

Caught on Canvas: a Rogues’ Gallery of Spanish Rulers Read More »

Retiro: a royal retreat turned public park

If you take a wander around Retiro on a Sunday afternoon, you’ll encounter people getting up to all sorts beneath the foliage, from spiritually-minded yogis contorting their bodies into ever more impossible shapes, to carnally-inclined lovers locking lips. But when the park was first opened to the public in 1868, such scenes would have scandalised. …

Retiro: a royal retreat turned public park Read More »

Tabacalera then and now

Tabacalera to be transformed On January 2024, plans were announced to transform the Lavapiés institution Tabacalera, into an arts centre. A whopping 12.5 million euros allocated for post-Covid recovery funds will be spent on much-needed renovations for a building that was falling apart. Many who know this independent institution can’t help but feel a little …

Tabacalera then and now Read More »

Muy majo: Madrid’s fiercely independent working class tribes

Chulapos and majos If you’ve ever attended a festival in Madrid, you may have seen ladies in polka dot skirts and headscarfs hanging on the arms of gents in tight dark trousers and checkered caps, both sporting bright red carnations. These are the chulapos and chulapas who were immortalized in literature and song during the 19th …

Muy majo: Madrid’s fiercely independent working class tribes Read More »

The destruction of Madrid’s churches

Napoleon comes to town Time was you couldn’t swing a cat, let alone drive through central Madrid without hitting a church or monastery. A lack of urban planning meant that the city’s narrow streets were stifled by religious institutions. That was until Bonaparte’s troops rolled into town. The new ruler, Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, decided to …

The destruction of Madrid’s churches Read More »